Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Whole 30 Days 16-23

I am definitely on the home stretch now! In some ways I'm totally settled in to eating this way and in some ways I am totally over it. I think I am mostly over talking to people about it. This honestly doesn't feel like a drastic lifestyle or way of eating but it's nearly impossible to maintain it without some level of inconvenience. I don't mind doing a lot of cooking but I hate feeling like I inconvenience people. Sometimes I just want to yell, "None of these things need sugar in them, so WHY do they all have them?!"

Anyway, I am also a little nervous about Whole 30 ending. I feel like when I have a program to follow, I can maintain discipline. But if I have no rules, it's a free-for-all. I've been looking into leading a more "Paleo" lifestyle but still need to read up on the specifics. I'm also interested in trying to keep dairy and gluten out of my diet while worrying less about the specifics commanded by Whole 30. We'll see what works for me.

Next weekend on Days 27-29 of my Whole 30, we are going to a cabin with a big group of friends. For us this would usually entail eating a bunch of crap and drinking even more of it. It's going to be a test of my will power to make it all the way to the end.

Also, I'm already planning out the wine I'm going to have as the first non-Whole 30 item I reintroduce into my diet.

Here are some things I made in the last eight days. All of them were from the Whole 30 book.

Melissa's Chicken Hash

This was delicious! There is shredded chicken, apple, sweet potato, and spinach in this. It is sweet and spicy at the same time.

Stuffed Peppers

I can't remember what exactly the recipe called for but I had ground pork so that's what I used. It also has butternut squash and some other stuff. I was also really surprised how well these re-heated for lunches.

Walnut Crusted Pork Tenderloin

This recipe called for 1lb of pork and I bought 2lbs so we're still eating this.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Whole 30 Days 9-15

By the time I this post goes up I'll be on day 18 of my Whole 30. I definitely settled in to this way of eating and didn't document how I felt daily. Overall, I feel great! I don't have any cravings for specific foods which has always been the hardest thing for me with dieting in the past. This does not feel like a diet at all. One interesting thing I've experienced is a lack of hunger. I'll eat breakfast and get hungry for lunch, but then have no desire for dinner. This happened four of the seven days but on a couple of them I made myself eat an apple with almond butter.

I had the week off before summer professional development and summer school start. It was nice to make breakfast every morning instead of heating up some container of pre-made food. I was loving scrambled eggs with guacamole almost every day. I'd been eating salads the week before at work but this week I cooked something most days. Here's one super simple, easy, and delicious lunch I had:

Some other things I ate during the week:

Zucchini Fritters

I was really surprised how good these were and made them for lunch two days in a row.  The recipe was really simple. I also made a garlic mayo as a dip with the compliant mayo I made.

Paleo Deviled Eggs

I made these from some extra hard boiled eggs I had in the fridge. I used the same recipe I always do but just substituted the mayo for Whole 30 homemade mayo. Just some mustard, "mayo", salt, and pepper. I usually sprinkle with paprika as well but was all out that day.

Bunless Burgers and Oven Fries

I used this recipe to make burgers but did make the parsnip shoestrings and made guac instead of avocado mousse because I'm obsessed with guacamole. Potatoes were not included on Whole 30 until last year and fries are a food that people often lack control with so this will probably be the only time I make them this month even though the were SO good.

Then I started forgetting to take pictures.

I made Zucchini Noodles with Shrimp and Romesco Sauce. This is a Whole 30 recipe and here is there picture. Mine looked the same except I burned the almonds for the sauce so mine looked brown.

I also made Salmon with Mango Salsa that I found on Pinky's blog for when we had friends over for dinner. It was SO good and I was bummed that I forgot to take a picture.

I feel like this is what I spent my whole week doing:

Chopping, chopping, chopping (and drinking cold press, which I've learned to love black)

To help pass that time I've listened to two audio books. Both were easy listens (is that the audio equivalent of an easy read?)

Thanks for the recommendation, Kristin!

My goal for the next week is to be better about eating larger meals and not snacking in between. I know that nuts are compliant but I think I consume too many sometimes.

Cody's been a pretty good sport about all the healthy meals happening in our home, especially given that he's not inclined to it. However, we went to Target on Saturday and he came away with all of this:
Pizza, bread, goldfish, sugary cereal, pop tarts, doritos, etc.
The watermelon was mine :)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Crafternoon DIY

This will not be a regular category in my blog. I don't often craft things or make anything for our home. We've lived in our place and been married almost seven months and we haven't printed any photos of our wedding or otherwise. But for some reason, this craft caught my eye.

I saw this on Pinterest (of course) and here is the link for the inspiration.

We have a space in our living room that had a frame that was just the wrong size for the space. I loved this idea but I also wanted it to match our living room a little bit better.

We got our supplies from Michael's and spent $23 which kind of reinforced when I don't DIY much. Couldn't I buy something to fit that space for about the same price? 

Anyway, we got the following:


1. Use Exacto knife to cut 4"x4" squares.

2. Spray pain tiles black. We did this outside on newspaper.

3. Let dry. We waited about an hour.

4. Use stencils, acrylic paint, and brush to paint white numbers approximately centered on each tile.

5. Google correlating numbers for each letter in a standard Scrabble set.

6. Paint small numbers in the right corner by free hand.

7. Let dry. This was quick.

8. Use mounting putty to stick to wall, approximately 1/2" apart.

Here were our results:

You can obviously do any words you want. We did our last name as the center and built words off of that. Here is a view of the whole wall. On the left the monogram and wine rack were wonderful wedding and shower gifts and I think the new addition compliments them well!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

My ABCs of Travel

I want to devote part of this blog to writing about travel, whether it's international or around Minnesota. I saw this post on Rachael's Blog and decided to do it as well as kind of an introduction to travel I have done.

A) Age you went on your first international trip:
I think I crossed the border momentarily into Canada when I was younger but as a Minnesotan that barely counts as leaving the country. So, my first real international trip was when I was 14 and my family went to the UK.
B) Best foreign beer you’ve had and where:
 A lot of my international travel has been in Asia and they do not have good beer. They just don't. But I tried a lot of them and my favorite is Tiger beer from Singapore. But, on our honeymoon we actually found a great craft brew pub in Rome called Open Baladin. They had a huge selection and we tried several. However, Guinness is my favorite beer of all time and is foreign. I've never had one in Ireland but I've had it many many times in the US and in other European countries.

C) Cuisine (favorite): 
While the beer in Asia is nothing special, the food is uhhhhhhhhh-mazing!! I love Chinese food (not what we find here in the US). I love Indian food. But I think Vietnamese was the best. It was especially interesting to me that there was a lot of typical Asian food but they also had the French influence so they also had amazing sandwiches and bread. 

Banh Mi

You get them from carts like this on the street. And street food is always worth the risk!

D) Destinations–favorite, least favorite, and why?:
Favorite: Italy. How can your honeymoon destination not be your favorite? But, I could have gone to Italy with anyone and I think it might still be my favorite. It is so magical and beautiful. I could spend months there.

Least Favorite: I know it was only because of poor planning but my least favorite was probably the Philippines. We only went to one place, an island called Boracay. And we went during typhoon season. And we wondered why it was so cheap...

Not one sunny day

E) Event you’ve experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:
I haven't done a lot of travel planned around a specific event. I think Oktoberfest in Germany would be amazing or going to the Olympics. New Years on the streets of Hong Kong was pretty cool. 
F) Favorite mode of transportation:
Flying. I often say that while travel is incredible, transit is horrendous. Our trains in Italy were the first time I was comfortable on any type of transportation other than a plane. Usually I just want to get it over with.
 G) Greatest feeling while traveling:
Landing in your destination with your whole trip ahead of you.
 H) Hottest place you’ve ever traveled to:
Cambodia in June. We could hardly do anything during the day. We had to go to Angkor Wat at sunrise so we wouldn't melt and when we spent time at our hotel pool (thank god our had one) we couldn't bear anything but being immersed in the cold water. I've also felt incredible humidity in Brazil and Vietnam.

At about 6am, when it was only 95 degrees

I) Incredible service you’ve experienced and where?:
In Shenzhen, China where I lived for a year had a place called Queen Spa. It was so incredible that we spent Christmas there. (What else are you going to do in China on Christmas?) You pay about $40 for 24 hours of entry and that includes three small services (foot massage, shoulder massage, etc.) You can hang out in a lounge chair all day, order food, use the pools, hot tubs, saunas, etc. You can also pay for additional services. I also took my sister there when she came to visit. There are definitely more luxurious places in the world but not for anywhere near that cheap. In general in Asia, spa services like massages or manicures/pedicures were so much cheaper than in the US so I loved getting those. In China we could also go get a 'hair wash' which included a back massage, shampoo/condition, scalp massage, and blowout/style. I miss that so much!

J) Journey that took the longest:
Definitely the return trip from our honeymoon. For some reason we had a flight going from Rome to Paris, Paris to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Minneapolis. Our flight from Paris to Amsterdam was delayed and we missed our connection to Minneapolis. So we spent the night in Amsterdam. Then there were no direct flights to Minneapolis so we had to go through Atlanta. 40 hours later we made it home. However, I'd take that over the 24 train I took from Beijing to Shenzhen, blech.
K) Keepsake from your travels:
I don't really like to buy many souvenirs. I cherish my pictures and I buy a magnet from each country I've been to.

L) Let-down sight, where and why?:
Honestly, New York City in general. I know this is an unpopular opinion and I probably haven't spent enough time there to truly appreciate it. But I just don't see what the hype is all about. It takes forever to get anywhere, everything is expensive, and it smells.
M) Moment where you fell in love with traveling:
During college I had my heart set on doing Semester at Sea but I'm not sure why I was so drawn to travel. I would say that Semester at Sea definitely gave me the desire to continue to travel. 
N) Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:
I don't stay in very nice hotels. I would rather spend my money on other things given that I don't even spend that much time at hotels when I'm out exploring all day. The Palazzo in Vegas for my bachelorette party was probably one of the nicest places I've stayed because we knew we wanted to spend time in the room together and wanted a nice space for that and we wanted a great pool to lounge around.

O) Obsession–what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:
During Semester at Sea I made it my goal to take a picture of a cat in each country...

Brazilian cat
This was not a difficult feat. There are a lot of stray cats in developing countries.
 P) Passport stamps-how many and from where?:
Bahamas, Brazil, Namibia, South Africa, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Japan, Costa Rica, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, Italy, Cambodia, The Philippines, Sweden, France but there are dozens of stamps from crossing the border between China and Hong Kong over and over again. I have no idea how many total.

Q) Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where?:
Sex Museum in Amsterdam. Enough said. 
R) Really Frightening: where’s one place you’ve visited where you felt unsafe or uneasy?
Salvador de Bahia in Brazil. A man tried to steal my purse and my debit card information got stolen and my bank account was drained, all in two days.
S) Splurge-something you have no problem spending money on while traveling:
Depends where. Most places I love to spend money on dining. But in the US I don't care as much about trying different foods, unless it's unique to the area and would rather spend money on experiences.
T) Touristy thing you’ve done:
Most of the things I do while traveling are 'touristy'. Here's a cheesy tourist picture:

U) Unforgettable travel memory:
Staying with a family in Japan and being shown around Kyoto by local university students.

V) Visas-how many and for where?:
Two Chinese tourist visas, two for India, one for Brazil, two for Vietnam, one for Cambodia (obtained on the side of a river between Vietnam and Cambodia), one Chinese work visa.

W) Wine–best glass while traveling:
We had a great Shiraz in Rome. But I also remember having an amazing Sauvignon Blanc in South Africa. I love wine.

X) eXcellent view and from where?
The view looking over Hong Kong from Victoria peak, looking over Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo, view of Rome from the top of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, view of Cape Town from Table Mountain. There are a lot of amazing views in the world.


Y) Years spent traveling:
I spent 4 straight months traveling on Semester at Sea, then a year living in China and traveling in SE Asia. Travel has been more sporadic since then.

Z) Zealous sports fans and where?:
I actually had an amazing experience watching the World Cup while traveling in SE Asia. We ran into so many other travelers from all over the world and there was so much enthusiasm. We got totally wrapped up in it despite not caring at all about soccer :)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Whole 30 Days 1-8

On May 31st, I started the Whole 30. It's an eating challenge giving up dairy, grains, alcohol, and all added sugar. There are specific foods and additives you need to avoid. I wrote more about why I wanted to start it here.

I planned ahead with almost everything I would eat. Here are some of the dinners I made:

Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Thighs and Roasted Asparagus

The recipe called for bacon but I didn't have compliant bacon without sugar yet (don't worry, I got some now and I can't wait to make it on Saturday morning!). It was the first time I'd made chicken thighs and they are definitely different than chicken breasts. They more juicy but more difficult to trim all of the fat.

Cauliflower "Fried Rice" with Chicken

Man, was this labor intensive! Ricing the cauliflower and chopping the shallots, green onions, and mushrooms took me forever. Luckily I had just found the Strangers podcast and was listening to the Love Hurts series to keep me entertained. I also couldn't find Coconut Aminos for this recipe, which I think would have made it taste a lot more like real fried rice. I also heard Trader Joes will soon have frozen Organic Riced Cauliflower. And yes, I trekked over there to look for it. My location didn't have it yet. But that would make this SO much easier!


Balsamic Chicken on Spaghetti Squash

I can't remember where I found the recipe for this one! But it was super easy. Just chicken breasts seasoned with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning, cooked in coconut oil. Then the sauce was added to the same pan, just crushed tomatoes, chopped onion, and balsamic vinegar. I just roasted the spaghetti squash in the oven.

Steak and Brussels Sprouts

Super simple. I roasted the brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt, and pepper and pan fried the steaks on the stove.

Oops I ate half of it before taking the picture
Sweet Potato Nachos

So, these are not technically Whole 30. All of the ingredients are compliant. But the program encourages you not to have anything that is imitating junk food or snacks. But they were delicious. Would they have been more delicious with tortilla chips and a bunch of cheese? Yes. But I'm just not going to think about this for now. I made the sweet potato chips by slicing two sweet potatoes very thinly and baking for about 90 minutes at 250 degrees. I baked the chicken after seasoning with garlic powder, onion powder, Cajun seasoning, and chili powder. Then I made pico de gallo with roma tomatoes, red onion, fresh cilantro, and garlic and guacamole.

The leftovers also resulted in this amazing breakfast the next day. 

I also made Apple Cider Pork Chops, which I tragically forgot to take a picture of.

All of the recipes I used this first week were either from Stupid Easy Paleo or Whole Meg.

Each day I recorded some of my thoughts. They might be completely boring so feel free to skip over them unless you're interested in me tracking how many times I had to pass on a beverage I really wanted.

Day 1: I'm ashamed to admit I woke up hungover from my sister's house warming party the night before. I thought, "Oh great! I have to try to struggle through this anyway" I dragged myself to the kitchen when I got hungry and chopped up some sweet potato hash and fried eggs. Pretty soon I was feeling fine. I'm not sure this was necessarily because of the food, maybe it was just a mild hangover. I spent the day running around looking for more ingredients for things I was planning to make. Although I'd already been to two grocery stores, I had to run to Whole Foods, which I was trying to avoid because of the cost. But it was the only place to find sausage, bacon, and coconut milk that was compliant with the program. We went to a barbecue at my parents' house that night and I brought my own meat to cook but they had good fruit and veggies for me to enjoy. I also tried Kombucha for this first time!

Day 2: I read that Whole 30 might help me get out of bed more easily in the morning, which I struggle with hugely. Despite wishful thinking, this did not take effect on Day 2. At work I noticed, my breakfast kept me full longer than usual and I didn't need a snack mid morning. My lunch filled me up but I didn't have that horrible bloated feeling I sometimes get. The big thing for me is that I didn't get that usual fuzzy, tired, crashing feeling around 3pm. I also had to stay late at work and totally resisted the crappy snacks and pop they provided for the late meeting.

Day 3: Still didn't pop out of bed but I'd stayed up kind of late because of how late I'd stayed at work the night before. My coworkers were asking how I was feeling and I am still surprised that I feel good. The book said that I might go through sort of a "Sugar Hangover" and it hasn't happened. I'm sure it will just take a little longer to start craving things I've given up. 10% done! (Gotta celebrate the small milestones)

Day 4: Still difficult to get out of bed. I had some weird stomach issues after breakfast, which was weird because I ate exactly the same thing I had the past 3 days. But it passed and I felt great the rest of the day. I went out with my teaching team after school and was the super annoying guest asking what every item was cooked in but the server was really nice and I was able to have some wood fired chicken and green beans cooked in olive oil. One of my co-workers made a comment about me not drinking and asked if I was pregnant. I thought it was really rude and it ticked me off. What if I was pregnant but not ready to talk about it? But I talked about Whole 30 with all of them and they were really supportive, which was nice.

Day 5: Had a horrible time getting out of bed this morning so I'm just going to stop updating that and hope that eventually I'll get this elusive morning energy. Then I had the same stomach pains and indigestion right after breakfast so I'm going to switch up what I'm eating and see if that helps. I've had a couple of small cravings for foods but I'm surprised how easily I've dismissed them. It's nothing compared to when I was on a diet that allowed for some snacks/treats/carbs. I guess a little makes you want a lot.

Day 6: Last night I kept dreaming about accidentally eating and drinking things I wasn't supposed to! It was funny because I'd finish like half of it and then realize and be so mad! I guess I want to commit to this. It was our last day of work and everyone went out to a brewery. I thought I would be bummed to not have a beer with everyone but it turned out I didn't really care. I even went to a brewery with Cody and sat with him while he tried a couple beers.

Day 7: I woke up completely refreshed today and it was nice to make breakfast instead of taking tupperware to work. We had a family event and I had to turn down a champagne toast. So I guess I can just stop counting how many drinks I need to turn down now. Despite thinking it might be much harder to eat this way on the weekend than at work, it wasn't bad as long as I planned what I was going to eat.

Day 8: I ate the first thing I really didn't like. I made cauliflower mash and it tasted like crap because I couldn't add any dairy. We also walked to the grocery store to get an ingredient for dinner and I really wanted to try another flavor of Kombucha but the only kind they had had added sweetener. I was annoyed that it's so difficult to find foods or drinks that I can have. But I felt pretty good all day!

Weekend Wrap Up June 5-7

Friday June 5th

While Thursday was the last day of school, Friday was the last day for teachers. I finished packing my room early and took off to have lunch with my sister. We went to Agra Culture in Uptown Minneapolis where I was able to get a Whole 30 lunch: Salmon with Chimichurri sauce, truffled mushrooms, and roasted cauliflower tabouleh. YUM.

Then our staff went out to celebrate the end of the year at Surly Brewing. Surly is a really cool place. They were the brewery that led the fight for the legislation to allow taprooms on site of the brewery. It's now absolutely enormous and a must-see Twin Cities destination.

After that Cody picked me up and we went to a tiny little brewery called Bang Brewing. It was cool to go to this biggest brewery in the area to one of the smallest.

Because of Whole 30, I enjoyed their water and nice seating in the beautiful weather.

We also tried to turn Quinn into a dog. She hated the harness we made her wear but loved exploring around the backyard.

Saturday June 6th

Saturday was a really special day for my family. My grandparents owned a farm Northeast of the Twin Cities in Lindstrom, MN. Growing up, I spent every Sunday there. The farm and the surrounding land had been in my grandpa's family since the mid-1800's. My grandpa passed away in 2002 and then my grandma in 2010. Since then it has been a huge ordeal to figure out what to do with the land. It caused my mom, aunt, and uncle a lot of stress. They finally sold it about a month before Cody and my wedding.

With the excitement of the wedding, we kind of brushed by it. With the City of Lindstrom and the Trust for Public Land, they were able to ensure that their beautiful peninsula was preserved as a park. There was a ceremony on Saturday to mark the opening. My mom and aunt did a great job of speaking and it was actually really emotional.

The name of the park means "All Man's Right" in Swedish. Parts of my grandpa's land were sold to be developed in the past and I'm glad that this portion will remain as beautiful as it is now.

Sunday June 7th

We done a ton of nothing. And that was just fine because I don't have to go to work tomorrow!!!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Our Engagement Story

Cody and I had such a blast when we were dating. You can read about that here. You can read about our first date here and how we met here. In fact, we had so much fun that we wanted to take a trip together. We'd met in Las Vegas and wanted to head back there. Now, we both looooove Vegas but while Cody loves gambling, I love wandering the strip and going to the pool, so we knew we needed to make this a trip with friends. In fact, we even booked separate hotels and made different plans, knowing we'd hang out just part of the time.

On Thursday night Cody, my sister, our friend, and I flew to Vegas. Another group flew earlier. We arrived late and shuffled off to our separate hotels. Amy, Jamie, and I stayed at Mandalay Bay. I loved this hotel but it's really far south on strip so it can be inconvenient. But, if you want to walk the entire strip, it's nice to be at one end. Cody and his friends (same ones from the last trip) stayed at New York New York.

At the MSP airport

We did things separately and together. The girls went to the Foundation Room at the top of our hotel, went to an amazing brunch at the Wynn, walked the entire strip, explored as many hotels as we could, saw Cique du Soleil "O" at the Bellagio, and lounged by the pool at our hotel. Here are pictures of these activities:

We also met up with the guys for a night of wandering casinos. Some played blackjack. I sat at penny slots until I got free drinks. No shame.

We also planned to do a big group dinner at Nine Fine Irishmen, where Cody and I had met. It's a really fun bar and the restaurant gets super busy so Cody booked a reservation far in advance. The day before our reservation, they called him and told him someone had booked the entire top floor of the restaurant. So Cody suggested lunch. Almost no one else was available to go at that time so it ended up being just me and Cody. I even said, "Do you really want to go for lunch?" He said, "Absolutely." So we went.

We met up in the hotel casino and went to the restaurant. The hostess took us to our table, and I was like, "Hey! I know this table. We met right here!" Oblivious as can be, I asked Cody if he had arranged that. Of course he had. We had a great lunch and talked about the last year; how it had taken a while for us to actually get together, how exciting it has been to fall in love so quickly, how fun this weekend has been, and our future. I felt so lucky to be with someone so sentimental, that he would remember exactly where we met and was so happy with the day. I had no idea it was about to get so much better. I told him how special it was that he had arranged for us to share a meal in the same place we met.

Suddenly, he was staring at me intently and saying the sweetest things. I clutched his hands but he was pulling away from me, so that he could get down on one knee! I wish I remembered all of his words but my head was reeling, I was gasping, and my eyes were filled with tears. The most important part was when he quoted both of our favorite movie, "When you know you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start right now." I think I screamed, "YES!" when he asked me to be his wife and I threw myself at him before he could even put the ring on my finger.

The ring, by the way, was exactly what I wanted. Something vintage, something unique.

Cody wrote a version of this from his perspective on our wedding website that includes some of the hoops he had to jump through to ensure the logistics of this all turned out.

People have asked me how I didn't see this coming. We were back in Las Vegas, we were at the restaurant where we'd met, it was one year to the day since then. But honestly, Cody was always doing special and sentimental things for me. It seemed to me like we were just celebrating our (sort of) anniversary. Before I left, two of my co-workers even said, "Well, you're going to get engaged this weekend" and I completely dismissed it. We were, after all, on sort of separate trips. Cody had even said about a month earlier (trying to throw me off) that he wasn't sure if he could make the trip happen. And to top it all off, we'd only been dating ten months! We knew for sure that we wanted to be together forever, but I never would have thought Cody had already gotten everything lined up to propose. It was the best surprise ever and I loooooved that it was a surprise.

After lunch we went to find my sister and it was fun to see how long it took her to notice the ring. She was absolutely speechless and then really emotional. It was so nice! Then we met up with friends and went to Areole at Mandalay Bay for happy hour where the manager and a nice guest both bought us champagne. We went to a couple more bars and to Fremont Street in celebration and then in the morning it was back to Minnesota, happily engaged!